The Breakdown: Sutton United preview

We return to Emirates FA Cup action on Monday when we take on Sutton United in the fifth round, and ahead of the game Michael Cox assesses our opponents.


MC: Paul Doswell isn’t simply unpaid – he sponsors the club, effectively paying Sutton to be their manager. But Doswell’s impact has been quite extraordinary since taking charge in May 2008, leading them to promotion from the Isthmian Premier League, the seventh tier of English football, into first the National League south and then the National League itself. A typically charismatic non-league manager who has helped to grow the club in the local community, he is perhaps Sutton’s biggest asset.


MC: Doswell is a tactically-flexible coach capable of playing a variety of systems. Sutton seems likely to pack the midfield against Arsenal, perhaps with a narrow four attempting to press the Gunners and deny them time on the ball in central positions. The visitors’ full-backs could find space.


MC: Sutton have good attacking options. Roarie Deacon, who was in Arsenal’s academy until 2011, is a lively attacker who scored a superb equaliser against AFC Wimbledon in the third round, then caused problems in the fourth round alongside Maxime Biamou. Matt Tubbs’ relative lack of pace might mean he’s omitted here, but the former Bournemouth and Portsmouth striker is a tremendous goalpoaching option.


MC: Bedsente Gomis is a tremendous all-round midfielder capable of running games at National League level, and while he’s unlikely to dominate to that extent, he could drive forward powerfully on the counter-attack. Arsenal must also keep an eye on Craig Eastmond, likely to play to the right of midfield. He made 10 appearances for the Gunners between 2009 and 2011, and will be desperate to perform well here. 


MC: Centre-back duo Jamie Collins and Simon Downer performed very well against Leeds in the last round, but might be troubled by the speed of Arsenal’s attackers. With Sutton likely to press in midfield in the early stages, the Gunners might be able to find space in behind them – they’re likely to drop deeper as the game continues, however.



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